Adventure News

August 2006



Sample Carol Reed's latest mystery

MDNA games' Carol Reed series gets a third installment this October, but for those who just can't wait for more mystery-solving there's a demo out already.

The demo for Time Stand Still - A Carol Reed Mystery is a mere 55 MB download available from the developer's site.



Early buzz suggests the games might be adventures

The big announcement at this year's Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) was that Gabe, Tycho, and many others from the Penny Arcade universe will be migrating from their web comic to a full-fledged episodic game. The first installment, Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, is currently in development for Windows, Mac, and Linux, with next-generation console versions to follow. No release date has been set.

The episodic series is being developed by indie studio Hothead Games. According to the developer's website, Hothead Games is a new company comprised of industry veterans, with credits that include Simpson's Hit and Run and The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. These credits suggest that the team is familiar with licensed material, but also cast doubt upon whether the Penny Arcade games will be adventure games. Gaming blog">Kotaku reports that Robert Khoo, Penny Arcade's director of business relations, has likened the game to Telltale's episodic Sam & Max games but did not elaborate on whether the similarities are drawn from the Penny Arcade game's episodic nature or the gameplay itself. Various gaming news sites have speculated that the Penny Arcade series will be adventure games; however,">Friday's announcement does not address the gameplay, and a request to Hothead Games for more information was declined.

Adventure Gamers will provide more information about the gameplay when it becomes available. To learn more about Penny Arcade, visit their website.



George outwits the Mafia in first playable section

With its September release date fast approaching, a demo for Broken Sword: The Angel of Death has recently been released.

The demo casts players in the familiar role of George Stobbart, this time on the trail of a missing manuscript. Using only his wits and the usual array of inventory items, George must gain entry into Mama Martino's Salami Factory, which is really a front for the Mafia.

The demo allows both point-and-click and keyboard control options, and is approximately 350 MB in size. It's available for download at sites like WorthPlaying and 3DGamers.



Upgraded version with new features now on sale

Fans of The Shivah, the latest adventure from developer Dave Gilbert, may be interested to know that a commercial version of the title has been released. Featuring some updated graphics, and with added voiceovers and audio commentary, the new version costs a shade under $5, and is available from the developer's website, where a demo of the game can also be found.

Telling the story of Jewish Rabbi Russell Stone after a former member of his congregation dies leaving him a large amount of money, The Shivah was well received upon its original freeware release at the beginning of July, and the new release is designed to expand on the original product.



Plot details and artwork revealed for Jensen's psychological thriller

At the Games Convention in Leipzig, acclaimed game designer Jane Jensen presented her upcoming title, Gray Matter. For those not fortunate enough to attend, the following details were subsequently provided in a press release by the game's publisher, ANACONDA:


  • The game's story mixes eerie mysteries with supernatural events in best Jensen-style. Neurobiologist Dr. David Styles is one of the game's central characters: since losing his wife in a horrible accident some several years ago, he has become a recluse, seldom leaving Dread Hill House, his English country estate.


    When student and part-time street performer Samantha Everett shows up at his doorstep, she unexpectedly becomes his assistant. Hailing from America, she has been travelling through most of Europe the last couple years, making do by performing magic tricks on street corners, so this comes as a nice change of pace for her. But is the meeting of Sam and Styles really as coincidental as it seems?

    Her first task: finding six test subjects at Oxford University for one of Styles' experiments. The experiment starts off innocently enough: the subjects are tasked with imagining different forms of physical exercise. But then inexplicable incidents start mounting -- and Styles receives visitations by his dear departed wife. Now it's up to Sam to solve the mysteries of Dread Hill House.

    In Gray Matter, players control both Dr. David Styles as well as Samantha Everett in their bid to uncover the secrets and find out the truth. While Dr. Styles' research leads him into an investigation into the intricacies of the human mind, the player will have to tackle stage magic as Sam to solve puzzles. Gray Matter tackles questions concerning the nature of reality and the power of the mind in constructing the world we take for granted.





The development studio behind the game has also been revealed as Tonuzaba Entertainment, from Hungary. Hardly a household name, that will undoubtedly change between now and the game's projected release in the fourth quarter of 2007.



Got Game releases independent horror adventure

Got Game Entertainment announced today that Barrow Hill: Curse of the Ancient Circle has shipped to retailers in North America.

Originally released independently by the game's UK developer, Shadow Tor Studios, "adventure meets archeology" in the first-person, point-and-click horror game. Players follow in the footsteps of famed archeologist Conrad Morse at the ancient burial ground of Barrow Hill after being stranded on the night of the Autumn Equinox. Morse and his team have disappeared, and while facing the same threat lurking deep in the Cornish countryside, players must use "real archaeological techniques, explore well trodden pathways across the land, seek clues in almost forgotten shrines, unearth ancient artifacts, and delve into Celtic legends to ultimately unravel a detailed and spellbinding mystery."

For more information about Barrow Hill: Curse of the Ancient Circle, be sure to check out the game's official website and Adventure Gamers' recent review.



Jessica Plunkenstein developers reveal first commercial project

The developers of Jessica Plunkenstein and the Düsseldorf Conspiracy have announced their first commercial adventure, a "madcap romp through Ancient Rome" called The Judgment of Quintus.

In AD 52, the Roman Empire is confronted by the threat of invasion by Anglo Squirrels unleashed by the Britons. Having survived similar rodent dangers in the past through the divine intervention of Vesta, the Goddess of the Hearth and Squirrel Smitery, this time Olympus is having its own crisis, and many Romans are converting to a mysterious new religion. If Rome is to survive, its fate rests on Quintus, assistant publicist of a renowned gladiator and most unlikely hero.

According to the greGAMES! (appropriately zany) press release, The Judgment of Quintus will feature high quality production values in presenting:

    - An epic journey that takes you around and about the Roman Empire with day trips to Olympus, the Underworld, and lands as exotic as their pronunciation.

    - Countless dangers including evil sorceresses, would-be alchemists, plush animals, celebrity judges, overprotective parents, underzealous children, expectorant actors, resilient stagehands, tour groups, vestal vegans, Major-Generals, General-Majors, and, the most feared of all beasts, the Gladiopossum.

The Judgment of Quintus is loosely projected for release some time in 2007. For more information about the game, you can visit the game's official website.



Project to be unveiled at the upcoming Games Convention

Today is a day of rejoicing for fans of Jane Jensen, as German publisher ANACONDA announced it will be publishing Gray Matter. The game will be unveiled by the "queen of adventure gaming" herself at the Games Convention in Leipzig later this month.

Gray Matter is an original title by Jensen that was previously slated to be published by The Adventure Company. Then known only as "Project Jane-J", the game was officially "put on hold" in May 2004, though many rightly assumed that the cancellation would quietly follow. Since then, Jensen has been involved in creating casual games, most notably BeTrapped. But many still hoped that the writer of the immensely popular Gabriel Knight series would once again turn her attention to a full-fledged adventure.

With the unexpected revival of the Sam and Max franchise, Uru Live, and now Gray Matter, the adventure universe seems finally to be unfolding as it should, and we can all forget that the bad memories of 2004 ever happened.

There's still a long way to go for Gray Matter, of course. The game is scheduled for worldwide release in the fourth quarter of 2007, but we'll certainly be following the game's development with great anticipation.



Character insight provided by Charles Cecil narration

A new Broken Sword: The Angel of Death video is now available that shows in-game footage and offers a more detailed look at some of the game's key characters.

The movie is narrated by Revolution's Charles Cecil, who provides the backdrop for the fourth installment in the popular series. Cecil even explains how the presence of Anna Maria, a new female character who appears early in the game, allowed the developers to have a little fun in withholding information about Nico, which caused longtime series fans to worry that the spunky French heroine had been replaced in Angel of Death. But if any doubt still remained, Nico herself makes an appearance in the trailer.

The video is approximately 60 MB, and can be downloaded from WorthPlaying. Broken Sword: The Angel of Death is scheduled for release next month.



Upcoming WWII spy thriller sets up online operations

In the worst demonstration of spy cover ever, German publisher ANACONDA today revealed the official website for its upcoming espionage thriller, Undercover: Operation Wintersun.

The new site completely exposes poor Dr. John Russell, the British physicist sent behind enemy lines in World War II Germany to investigate the Nazi development of the uranium bomb. Accompanied by two other MI6 operatives, Russell not only has the Third Reich to worry about, but he soon has reason to suspect his allies, and to make matters worse, his search for the production facilities leads him "right into the hands of a sinister German general, who has his own fanatical plans with the powerful, new weapon."

The third-person, point-and-click adventure is on schedule for release late next month. In the meantime, the new website offers plenty of screenshots, artwork, and a forum to keep would-be secret agents busy.



Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon now available as commercial download

For the first time in a history that now spans fourteen games, a Nancy Drew adventure will be available for purchase as a digital download.

Offered only at the Big Fish Games portal for the time being, Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon costs $19.99 USD, and comes as a 754 MB download, so dial-up users beware. The game was originally released last fall, and was the first Nancy Drew game to feature the Hardy Boys.

Along with such episodic games as the Bone series and the recently released single-case version of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, the digital download of Nancy Drew continues the trend of adventures branching into the sizable (and lucrative) casual games market. Whether that market will be receptive to the deeper, more narrative-driven adventures remains to be seen, but it certainly seems a viable means to create exposure among those who wouldn't normally be aware such games exist.



New, improved Adventure Game Studio version

Chris Jones has released a new version 2.72 of his popular adventure game creation tool, Adventure Game Studio.

The new version supports graphics filters to allow games to be played at higher resolutions than the game is written for, which will be helpful for those who have monitors or graphics cards that don't support some resolutions. There is also the possibility to use the new engine on games compiled with older AGS versions, thus getting the filter advantage.

There are many other minor improvements and bug fixes to both editor and engine included in the release, see the AGS forum thread for a full list of changes.



First animated footage from the upcoming sequel to Aura

The Adventure Company recently released a trailer for its upcoming adventure The Sacred Rings, showing a glimpse of the various settings, characters, and puzzles that await gamers this fall.

The sequel to Aura: Fate of the Ages, the new first-person, point and click puzzler once again casts players in the role of Umang. This time, alone in a dark and uninviting world, you possess a set of rings that grant their holder immortality and untold power. Unfortunately, with the fate of humanity literally in your hands, you soon discover that "a rival clan has tracked you down and that they want the Sacred Rings' power for their own evil purposes."

The trailer is approximately 27 MB in size, and can be downloaded from sites such as WorthPlaying and 3D Gamers.



Convention to be scaled back to "a more intimate event"

The Entertainment Software Association announced yesterday that E3 will "evolve" into a smaller event beginning in 2007.

While early rumours of the Electronic Entertainment Expo's cancelation proved to be false, the ESA has confirmed that the 12-year old videogame convention will indeed be scaled back in future. With some of the larger publishers reportedly balking at skyrocketing costs, ESA President Doug Lowenstein cited the need for "a more intimate program, including higher quality, more personal dialogue with the worldwide media, developers, retailers and other key industry audiences."

While E3 is an exciting time for gamers, there's no question that the event had become something of a bloated spectacle of excess over the years, with its carnival-like atmosphere actually working against its intended goals of effectively showcasing games to media. This news, then, could signal a welcome change in direction for E3, though that will depend on how the event is restructured, and how quickly the new focus can be implemented. The ESA provided no concrete details for next year's show, other than stating that the current plan is to keep E3 in Los Angeles. According to Lowenstein, "It will focus on press events and small meetings with media, retail, development, and other key sectors. While there will be opportunities for game demonstrations, E3Expo 2007 will not feature the large trade show environment of previous years."

For the most part, adventures remained outside of the competitive, showfloor extravanganzas, opting for exactly the sort of "targeted, personalized meetings" hinted at by the ESA yesterday. This year, we saw 30 adventures at E3, so the ESA's plans will definitely have an impact, though it remains to be seen what the full effect will be.

The ESA claims that additional details about the new E3 will be revealed "in the next few months."